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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

dining population, expressed the conviction that the problem of decreasing population was one of the central issues and dilemmas of modern democratic states.
"To my mind no other factor—not even that of peace or war—is so tremendously fatal for the long-term destinies of democracies as the factor of population. Democracy, not only as a political form but with all its content of civic ideals and human life, must either solve this problem or perish" (3).
The dilemma, he noted, was that there was a conflict between the interest of the individual family concerned with maximizing its own well-being and income and, therefore, keeping family size small, and the long-term interest of society in reproducing itself.*
In these lectures, Myrdal specified some of the significant undesirable effects of a declining population. If population did not grow, he said, demand would remain constant and entrepreneurs would then be less willing to take risks. An increasing fear of investment and a decreasing demand for capital goods would lead to a reduction in the total amount of private investment and, therefore, a slowing down of the economic growth rate. A declining population would also mean an older population, and while it might be easier for young people to find jobs, it would also prove to be more difficult for young people to advance in their careers since there would be a larger percentage of older people maintaining their positions through the right of seniority. It would thus take a longer time for young people to achieve responsible positions.
When on account of the changed age structure individual opportunities to rise socially are blocked, people will get discouraged. They will lose their dynamic interest in working life. Society will lose the mental attitude that goes with progress. Interest in security will be substituted for an earlier interest in social advancement. (3, p. 165)
Moreover, according to Myrdal, the bureaucratic apparatus would increase since in a country with a declining population the economy would also decline and "much less takes care of itself in a declining economy than in one that is growing" (3, p. 166). And since the bureaucracy would be made up of older men, it would be a "static and senile" institution. Finally, he concluded, in a democratic society the aged would use their votes to exercise political pressures on the state to take over the responsibility of providing security for older people at a time when the most fundamental need would be for a policy of redistribution of income so that the costs of children would be
*For a contrasting analysis, focusing on tlie need for a population policy to reduce fertility, see (4, especially chapters 27, 28).ical consequences of population decline. Myrdal, in his Godkin lectures at Harvard in 1938, focusing on the consequences of a de-